...or CVS: Culinary Vortex of Shame
FoodiePrincess: “Only you would come up with a plan that involves stripping meat off frozen buffalo wings all Sunday afternoon...”
Classy&Sassy: “Oh, hush up, Princess - My hands still smell like cheap fish!”
Who: Dallas' Sexiest Food Writers (um, us.)
What: The 2007 CVS Cook-Off Challenge
Where: Classy&Sassy's House
Why: Why the hell do we do any of this?
The challenge presented was to cook a complete meal – hors d'oeuvre, entree, dessert – using only ingredients from CVS. 7-11 and Walgreens were also considered, but CVS's proximity to both entrants was the tie-breaker. (this idea took hold on my brain several years ago after reading a cheeky little piece in GQ about how a guy could cook an impressive meal for his date with ingredients from a convenience store)
Dishes must be not just edible, but elegant. Salt, pepper and dried spices are “free”; everything else must come from the designated store.
Dishes were presented to panel of 4 judges who rated Presentation, Flavor and overall Creativity of each dish on a scale of 1-5. Judges were chosen not for culinary knowledge or contest-judging experience, but instead based upon who was willing to risk indigestion in exchange for free beer and the chance of being quoted in an obscure corner of the internet.
Below, the dishes, points and judges' comments.
CATEGORY I – Hors D'oeuvre:
"This dish was a total accident. My original idea was to make bean tamales with the corn masa and corn husks that I found at CVS, but apparently, this is much more difficult that you would think. At the 11th hour I came up with the fritters by thickening up the corn masa and making a "dough" out of it. I then wrapped ancho chilies in one kind of fritter and refried beans (Frito's bean dip, truth be told) in the other. I then fried them until golden brown and crispy and served them with two sauces: mole and creamy salsa verde."
Judge #1: “Spicy! Olé!”
Judge #4: “Looked kinda turd-ish...but tasty.”
This would have been offensive, were it not so accurate. It was turd-shaped and had mole sauce on it, for crying out loud.
Total Points: 46
Salmon Croquettes with White Wine Aioli
"I settled on this deep-Garland fave made of canned salmon and crushed Ritz crackers after discovering, much to my dismay, that CVS does not carry biscuits like Walgreen's does. My initial thoughts of empanadas were dashed, but then I spotted a can of Bumble Bee and I knew that all was not lost...(aioli = mayo, white wine and spices)"
I'm not sure what this comment meant...but I'll take what I can get. Madonna and child? Peanuts characters decorating pink plastic tree? Who the hell knows.
Judge #1: “Pretty as a Christmas card!”
Total Points: 52
CATEGORY II - Entree:
"This was the most wheels-off chilaquiles in history. To get the chicken, I had to pick through three packs worth of Stouffer's buffalo wings. I may never look at a wing the same way again. I had never realized what a huge percentage of those things are made of skin and fat rather than actual chicken. Yuck. I then mixed that chicken with a spicy salsa/manwich sauce and crushed up tortilla chips and baked it until hot. I served it topped with Mexican crema."
Judge #2: “This is my favorite dish so far.”
Judge #3: “Looks like a summer camp project with class.”
That would the the summer camp from hell--all day long the only activity is picking the meat off of reheated frozen buffalo wings.
Total Points: 54
Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken
"This is an off-the-cuff rendition of my favorite dish; spices and sauce pilfered from a shelf-stable Asian noodle meal (I hate those things, but I had no choice...please see post entitled "Freeze! Step away..." to explore the depths of my shelf-stable meal hatred), combined with Skippy and used to dress Thin Spaghetti. Chicken excavated from two Lean Cuisine Glazed Chicken Entrees, garnished with chopped peanuts."
Judge #1: “Very hip.”
Hip? Hip? I want "brave" or perhaps "intrepid" for having to scrape glutinous lo-cal glaze from frozen chicken in the name of culinary adventure.
Judge #2: “Peanutty good!”
Total Points: 46
CATEGORY III - Dessert:
Vanilla Ice Cream with Mexican Chocolate Sauce
"I struggled somewhat with dessert, but in keeping with the Mexican food theme, I made Mexican hot chocolate (Hot chocolate with cinnamon added) served in a martini glass with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Of course, the ice cream melted, but it still tasted pretty yummy."
Judge #2: “The milky ending was delicious.”
Do I even need to comment on this comment? I just hope it didn't come from my husband.
Judge #4: “Who doesn't love ice cream? Losers, that's who.”
Total Points: 49
Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
"All classic bread pudding ingredients were available at CVS – i.e. This was not a MacGuyver-like concoction of Saltines, Splenda and coffee creamer. My brilliant idea of melting down caramel candy for sauce was thwarted, however, by the fact that my caramels didn't "melt", per se, but simply morphed into a glob of marginally caramel-flavored sludge."
Judge #1: “Good, but lacked embellishment.”At least she didn't say "I'll be poking a voodoo doll that looks just like you full of stick pins tonight in exchange for making me eat caramel phlegm."
Judge #3: “Good work for CVS.”
Total Points: 46
Victory goes to:
FoodiePrincess swept the competition with her well-coordinated and very tasty menu of Mexican creations. She will go forth into the world knowing that, in the case of nuclear war or global permafrost, she could make a three-course five-star meal with nothing more than a few shelf-stable foodstuffs from her local drugstore. That should help her sleep better tonight.